Entrepreneur Elon Musk, co-founder of Paypal, founder of Tesla Motors, CEO of SpaceX, doesn't have time for Hyperloop, his envisioned subsonic mass transit system that would whisk people between Los Angeles and San Francisco at 800 miles per hour.
Yes, he put about a dozen of his engineers on the project for nine months and then dropped a white paper on us in 2013 describing the technology. But like he said, his hands are full.
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But a new crowd-sourcing platform said it does have the time and they think they could have a working version up in ten years.
JumpStartFund, which leverages crowd-funded money to finance crowd-funded ideas, launched in 2013, around the time that Musk was talking about Hyperloop. It seemed like the perfect idea to tackle, and so the company's CEO Dirk Ahlborn reached out to Musk, proposed the idea for JumpStartFund and created the company Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, to devote resources to.
The crowd of folks currently working on Hyperloop are either students at UCLA or have day jobs at companies such as Boeing, NASA, Yahoo!, Airbus and SpaceX. But in their free time, they are contributing ideas and solutions related to design, route planning and cost analysis in exchange for stock options.
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Alex Davies from Wired reports that so far, the team has made progress in three main areas: the capsules, the stations, and the route. Here's a summary.
The route: Instead of Musk's proposed route of L.A. to San Francisco, the team is currently looking at different routes for the beta run - ones that would be flatter and would avoid some of the regulatory hurdles. That means the first Hyperloop might not be built in the United States.
The capsules: The subsonic tube-like passenger cars need doors that let people on and off, but doors could compromise the low-pressure environment required for the tube to move fast. The engineers decided that the capsule that people ride inside would slip into a shell built to handle the ride.
The stations: The team wants to streamline security and efficiency using robots who would check luggage and moving sidewalks that would pass through security. Keep it moving, people.
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The team is currently looking at the best mode for propulsion too. It could be a vacuum tube as Musk has proposed, but it could also use magnetic levitation, which several high-speed trains in China already use.
And, Davies points out, "At some point, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies will likely have to shift from this work-when-you-can-but-don't-expect-money model to something a bit more conventional with, you know, employees. But for now, it's a fitting approach."
Credit: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and JumpStartFund